Join *Jaguars Inside Report *Senior Editor Vic Ketchman as he tackles the fans' tough questions.
Brian W. Fullford from Jacksonville:
One of the things that impressed me against the Bengals was our offensive tackle play. There were many occasions when Stacey Mack ran off tackle to find a huge hole. I am curious, in your opinion, what is the talent difference between the Steelers and Bengals at defensive end and can we hope for the same type of running success?
Vic: The Steelers use a 3-4 defensive alignment, which means they employ their defensive ends very differently than would a 4-3 team such as Cincinnati. In the 3-4 scheme, the defensive linemen are saddled mostly with the responsibility of holding the point. The Steelers use their linebackers to chase down the ball. At that, the Steelers are the best in the league. They flow to the ball with great intensity, which caused them to overrun the play several times last season when Fred Taylor rushed for 234 yards against them. The difference between the way the Steelers and the Bengals play defense is night and day. There's nothing soft about the Steelers run-defense. It's very rare that an opponent enjoys success against them on the ground. Success against them rushing requires the application of a different standard: Run the ball effectively enough to maintain balance between run and pass. If the Jaguars don't do that, the Steelers will turn their blitz loose on Mark Brunell, and the Steelers lead the league with 34 sacks. It's most important for the Jaguars to make the Steelers play run. To abandon the running game is to invite the blitz. The Steelers don't have a quick-score offense. Their opponents can and should exercise patience.
Tom Crumpton from Jacksonville:
I agree with you that coach Coughlin has done a remarkable job building the Jags and the talk of him being replaced is just silly. However, the draft choices lately have been abysmal and that doesn't bode well for the future. Do you think Mr. Weaver should hire a general manager to help rebuild this team?
Vic: Tom Coughlin believes in the "one voice" philosophy. I prefer a separation of coach and GM. It's not because coaches don't know talent when they see it. It's because I believe drafting players is similar to handicapping horses. Some guys just have a knack for picking the right "horse." Coaches are often attracted to players who have great technique, which means the player is best-equipped to help the team immediately but may be as good as he's going to get. Personnel guys with a keen eye for raw talent will tend to go for a player with a big upside, with the idea the coaches will develop that raw talent. Both practices can be dangerous; something between the two is usually the best course. It's a crystal ball business and there are those personnel experts who seem to have the crystal ball. I would favor a system that puts the draft squarely in the hands of a personnel man.
Fred Wells from Jacksonville:
What do referees talk about through the headset when they are reviewing a play? I say this because some take minutes before even looking at it.
Vic: The referee and the replay-review crew are making sure everything is in order before the referee steps "under the hood." Once he does, he only has 90 seconds of review before he must make his decision. He can't afford a technical difficulty during his review process. The referee also communicates to the replay-review crew what he wants to see: possession, feet in bounds, break the plane, hands under the ball, etc.
Kamal Yechoor from Detroit, MI:
I am concerned about Mark Brunell's future with the team and the team's salary cap issues for next year. How long do you think Brunell, McCardell, Smith and Taylor can stay together. Do you think our Jaguars can still make a playoff run?
Vic: Obviously, the offseason is going to produce salary cap casualties, but it's unknown as to who those players will be. The remaining eight games of the season will go a long way in deciding. Mark Brunell and Fred Taylor have club-friendly contracts and they are in the prime years of their career. Jimmy Smith will have the third-highest remaining amortization ($7 million) on the team following this season. If his talent alone doesn't secure his return next season, then certainly his amortization does. Keenan McCardell's remaining amortization will be $4 million but his cap hit will be $5.315 million. Those numbers might make McCardell vulnerable.
Attenion All Ask Vic participants!!! To have your questions answered please fill in ALL spaces on the question form. We need your FIRST and LAST NAME along with your CITY and STATE. Thank you.